November 12, 2020 — Despite the U.S. clean energy sector gaining nearly 24,000 jobs in October, it remains particularly slow to rebound from impacts of the 2020 pandemic. According to a new analysis by BW Research Partnership, nearly half a million clean energy workers remain unemployed—a more than 13% decline from early 2020 for this historically fast-growing energy workforce.
Effects of COVID-19 continue to stall clean energy hiring, more so with cases now spiking around the country. Although efficiency led clean energy job growth in October, adding 16,800 jobs, no sector grew by more than 0.8%.
“Out of all clean energy workers, energy efficiency professionals continue to suffer the most job losses,” said E4TheFuture’s policy director Pat Stanton. “This segment remains down by 321,875 compared with January 2020 numbers. If this had been a normal year, the efficiency sector would have added about 34,500 jobs since March.”
Renewable energy, grid modernization, clean vehicles and fuels are detailed in the memo from BW Research, which provides statistics for all 50 states.
As in prior months, Black and Hispanic clean energy workers continue to suffer from disproportionately high levels of unemployment. According to BW Research, “official” unemployment claims exclude people not currently looking for work, e.g., parents who must remain home due to remote schooling.
“Also alarming is the rise in permanent unemployment over the same period [since March], which was a tiny fraction of the initial job losses in the spring but now represents 3.7 million job losses, one third of the total unemployed,” states the memo.
FEB. 2021 NOTE: This memo has been revised and is available here. The numbers presented in the original Nov. 12, 2020 memo are based on data issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Nov. 6, 2020. An update to that data was made by the BLS in its Feb. 5, 2021 Employment Situation report.